Tsvangirai to attend Zvinavashe's burial at Heroes Acre

HARARE – Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai was scheduled to return to Harare on Friday from Buhera, to attend Saturday's burial of the late former Defence Forces chief, General Vitalis Zvinavashe.

After the burial of his wife on Wednesday, the Prime Minister remained in Buhera with his children and close family. But his spokesman James Maridadi said he would return to the capital on Friday. 

‘He is still mourning the death of his wife but he will be back in Harare to attend the burial of General Zvinavashe, which is a state occasion,’ Maridadi said. At Heroes Acre, Tsvangirai is expected to come face to face with all the security and defence chiefs. The Joint Operations Command members have been conspicous by their absence at most functions that Tsvangirai has attended.

A source told us from Harare that the JOC members, who boycotted Tsvangirai’s inuguration, were also absent from his wife’s memorial service at the Methodist church in Harare and at her burial in Buhera.

‘They have avoided any contact with Tsvangirai since they famously declared on the eve of the 2002 presidential elections that they would not salute anyone without liberation war credentials,’ our source said. A statement clearly targetted at Tsvangirai.

‘Since he is now the Prime Minister, all eyes will be on the service chiefs to see if they will salute Tsvangirai when he arrives at the Heroes Acre for the burial,’ our source added.

Bernard Matongo, a retired army colonel told us that military etiquette demands that the service chiefs salute both the head of state and head of government.

‘If they choose to salute Robert Mugabe at the heroes acre and ignore Tsvangirai that would send wrong signals. In any case, there is no reason for the service chiefs to work against the inclusive government because the party (ZANU PF) that they come from has embraced it,’ Matongo said.

After the burial the Prime Minister will take time off from his government duties and has delegated his deputy, Thokozani Khupe, to be the acting premier in his asbence. On Sunday, Tsvangirai is scheduled to fly to Johannesburg, South Africa.

He is travelling to that country at the invitation of the ruling African National Congress President Jacob Zuma who has offered him and his family facilities to help recover from the loss of his wife. He is expected to be away for two weeks.

A memorial service will be held in the UK on Saturday for the late Susan Tsvangirai. It will be held at the Methodist church in Warwick Lane, Coventry, starting at noon. Pastor John Chisvo is urging Zimbabweans in the UK to attend, to give their last respects to Amai Tsvangirai.

‘As you might be aware Mrs Susan Tsvangirai was a full member of the Methodist Church in Zimbabwe, therefore the Methodists UK-Fellowship are creating this platform for all Zimbabweans to come and give their last respect to Amai Tsvangirai. This will be an opportunity to convey our condolence messages to our Prime Minister and his family,’ Pastor Chisvo said. 

On Friday in South Africa, hundreds of Zimbabweans, including representatives from that country’s political parties, attended a memorial service for Susan Tsvangirai at the Methodist church in central Johannesburg. The service ran from 12 to 2pm.

Vanesha Gavender from the Save Zimbabwe Now campaign, the organisers of the memorial, told us the service was a moving tribute to Susan’s life. The MDC was represented at the ceremony by Tapiwa Mashakada, the MP for Hatfield.

‘The attendance was quite good. Speaker after speaker gave a moving and at times emotional speech about Susan Tsvangirai,’ Gavender said. SW Radio